Some years ago I was privileged to work with the extreme contortionist Hodja Hog in the performance group King Cannibal and the Headhunter. Hodja was a very special talent, a contortionist with both body and voice, able to twist her physical form to fit any shape which entered her mind, abstract or figurative. Her voice was even more extreme in its contortional properties. Having studied as a child in the scandinavian school of voice bending she was able to manipulate the material world by means of singing or emitting piercing sounds from her mouth. Needless to say she could break glass, windows of course or goldfish bowls, this was easy for her. However she could by the same principles use her voice to repair broken glass. This was particularly handy in the early days of our musical career when extreme poverty forced us to live in disused and derelict buildings in need of reconstruction. Her vocal talents didn’t end there. By finding just the right frequencies she could cook coffee in a stove-top pot, hypnotise certain animals, and freeze alcohol. She was equally comfortable serenading audiences with Bach, Heiner Muller or the Songs of Maldoror, while I ran behind her with my scratchy cello accompaniment.
Hodja learned to sing from records on an old wind up gramophone. She also learned to sing all the pops and scratches from the disc, not realising that these noises were not meant to be part of the original music. A little known fact about her was that astrologically she was a double earth sign. The way this affected her was that she was never able to drown or even become wet, no matter what the circumstances. She was able to lie underwater for twenty minutes while we performed ‘Ophelia’ without a single drop of liquid permeating her bone dry skin.